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At a time of immense promise for advances in medical and biological sciences, Virginia is falling far behind other states in supporting basic university research and in incubating start-up biotechnology companies. Despite our successes with "high technology," there has been too little focus on positioning the Commonwealth in biosciences. With this in mind, Governor Warner appointed a commission on biotechnology to help determine what, if anything, Virginia should be doing. The commission deliberated thoroughly, making its final report in December 2005.

Yet another breakdown in governance and management of the Commonwealth is occurring as I write this note. Two competing versions of a two-year budget are stuck in a "conference committee" as we prepare to extend the session past its constitutional limit.

With the real estate slump driving a downturn in tax revenue, governments at the state and local levels are going to have to tighten and trim. At the halfway point in the 2008 session, budget negotiators in Richmond are waiting for bad news from economic forecasters. Everyone expects Governor Kaine's budget, built on certain outdated expectations, to be substantially redrafted before we leave in early March.

After talking about a long-term transportation fix since January, the General Assembly finally adjourned for the year in late September without taking action on the problem.